Jolanta A. Drzewiecka is Senior Assistant Professor and Intercultural Communication Chair at the Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland. Visiting Professor, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland (Fall, 2015)
My research centers on construction of cultural, racial, and national differences in discourse. I am particularly interested in contexts of systemic collapse and transition, regional and global integration, and rescaling of government. I focus on two areas: negotiation of belonging and public memories.
Immigrant identity: incorporation and representation
My work examines how immigrants negotiate identities and are represented by media. I am developing an innovative way of understanding how immigrants are incorporated within racial hierarchies that perpetuate domination and inequality (Drzewiecka & Steyn, 2009; Drzewiecka & Steyn, 2012; Pande & Drzewiecka, under review). With my South African collaborator, Melissa Steyn, I proposed a framework of incorporation as discursive intercultural translation based on a study of how Polish immigrants are incorporated racially within the distinct South African racial regionalism (Drzewiecka & Steyn, 2009). We theorize translation as a creative and strategic process of meaning integration that results in immigrants’ reframing themselves to bid for inclusion and belonging in their new place. Our concept of translation is based in postcolonial theory and highlights the complex processes whereby immigrants understand and connect new meanings and position themselves within racial hierarchies. We extended this work to theorise how the symbolic and the material are inseparably interlaced to form immigrant identities (Drzewiecka & Steyn, 2012). We demonstrated that Polish immigrants were incorporated and incorporated themselves in ways that supported continuing white domination in cultural, institutional and economic structures. The most recent project extends the concept of racial incorporation by connecting identity capital and emotions to negotiation of belonging.
I also explore representations of immigrants in newspapers. A recent paper examines how Polish post-EU accession migrants are represented in British newspapers (Drzewiecka, Hoops & Thomas, 2014). We zero in on the role of media in legitimating the changing scales of government as well as precarious citizenship in representations of migrants in the European Union. This is a rich area for application; a follow up study examines the US immigration reform debate focusing on how citizenship and rights are shaped by the state adjusting to globalizing conditions (Drzewiecka, Pande & Saurbier, 2014).
Another productive line of research centers on public memories, particularly those of racist violence. In a recent project, I demonstrated through a psychoanalytic reading how knowledge of the past antisemitic violence has been blocked and the victims rendered unrecognisable to protect the fictions of the Polish gentile self (Drzewiecka, 2014). Another paper examines the discourses of historical wound in media and how they are shaped and shape relations with the other. My current book project extends the psychoanalytical rhetorical approach to understand how memories of racial others recuperate and purify the nation in response to ongoing and new global challenges to national purity and exclusivity. Further, I am co-editing (with Susan A. Owen and Peter Ehrenhaus) a special issue of the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication on public memories, culture and difference. The issue is scheduled for publication in 2016.
I had the pleasure of serving as the Chair of the International and Intercultural Communication Division of the National Communication Association, USA.
Hoops, J., Thomas, R., & Drzewiecka, J. A. (2015). Polish plumber as a pawn in the British newspaper discourse on Polish post-EU enlargement immigration to the U.K. Journalism. Published online before print May 31, 2015, doi: 10.1177/1464884915585960.
Drzewiecka, J. A. (2014). Aphasia and a legacy of violence: disabling and enabling knowledge of the past in Poland. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 11, 362-381.
Drzewiecka, J. A., Hoops, J., & Thomas, R. (2014). Rescaling the state and disciplining workers in discourses on EU Polish migration in UK newspapers. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 31, 410-425.
Drzewiecka, J. A., & Steyn, M. (2012). Racial immigrant incorporation: material-symbolic articulation of identities. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 5, 1-19.
Drzewiecka, J. A., & Steyn, M. (2009). Discourses of exoneration in intercultural translation: Polish immigrants in South Africa. Communication Theory, 19, 188-218.